There have been a few times when I actually have enjoyed my time in the kitchen. Almost all have involved a glass or two of wine.
And, so when my smallest person returned from school the other day determined to enter a homemade apple pie in the farmers market pie contest, I immediately broke out in a cold sweat.
I have never baked a pie.
My pie-o-phobia is mostly due to years of extensive advice provided by well-intentioned gastronomes—freeze the flour, mix with a light hand, roll from the center, pre-cook the apples, heap them up high, wet the top crust—to me, this is dizzying. But how do you dismiss a small pie-obsessed enterprising firebrand who makes a completely convincing case—Mom, we could do it together, she says.
In the end, I have learned that if you can make a purple Play-Doh pie (and my daughter is a self-proclaimed master), you can make an apple pie.
Oatmeal, hazelnuts, boiled cider, sour cream, ground cloves, lemon zest, pepper, melted apple jelly, vodka—all can do wonders for an apple pie, I’ve heard. We stuck with a few simple ingredients we had on hand—fresh fruit, flour, butter, eggs, sugar. Homemade pie can only be as yummy as the produce put into it. We put in a mixture of local Honeycrisps, Macouns, Jonathans and Crispins. Other late-fall blends could include Northern Spy, Pink Lady, Rome, Cortland, Braeburn, Rome, Idared, and Black Twig.
This recipe is perfect for making one double-crust apple pie.
Flaky Butter Crust:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, chilled and diced
- ½ cup ice water
In large, refrigerated bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter only until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a Tbs at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Don’t overwork the dough. Shape dough into two flat disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour. Unwrap one dough disk and roll out on wax paper. Invert over 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Ease dough into pan bottom and corners. Refrigerate.
- 6 cups apples, quartered, cored, peeled and sliced very thin
- 1 Tbs lemon
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 1 eggwhite
- 1tbs milk
- 1 Tbs butter, frozen
Set pizza stone or cookie sheet on center rack of oven. Preheat oven to 475. Brush bottom piecrust lightly with egg white. Bake for 5 minutes. In large bowl, mix apples with lemon. In separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add apples and mix. Add salt and mix. Arrange apples in layers on dough-lined pie plate. Heap them up high, since they will cook down a bit. Cover filling with diced butter.
Roll out second dough disk. For a lattice-top crust, cut ¾ inch strips and carefully weave onto filling. For a solid crust, center dough onto filling and cut steam vents near crust edge with paring knife. Trim and tuck edges. Place pie in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush top with a light layer of milk and sugar. Reduce oven temperature to 400. Bake on preheated pizza stone until top crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Fasten foil rim around crust edge. Continue baking until juices bubble thickly at pan edges and big slow bubbles rise up through the vents, about 35 more minutes.
Transfer pie to wire rack and (the ultimate challenge) commit to an hour-long mouthwatering wait. At least.
At this point, you are most likely at the edge of your seat wondering about our pie contest outcome. To our complete surprise, the pie was a prize-winning one. Yay! And so, later that week at a friend’s house, composed and confident, in an attempt to replicate success, I made the same exact world-class pie and popped it into the oven. And broiled it. A total flop. I will spare you the gory details. And yet, I remain fully committed to trying this recipe out with fresh local Anjou pears next week, er tomorrow.
Now, go forth and bake ye some pie! And at Thanksgiving dinner (It’s coming, you know!) when folks ask your kids, What have you been up to lately? He or she may reply, Oh, nothing much. Just hanging out.
And making the best pie ever.